Browsing Category

Lifestyle

Food

Recipe: My Favorite Chanterelle Pasta (Secretely Vegan!)

August 30, 2016

There’s nothing I love more than fresh, Swedish chanterelles in August. Lately I have been trying to live a bit healthier, but last Wednesday I got a sudden craving for chanterelles and pasta – which are both some my favorite things to eat separately, but together they are MAGIC. Of course, I only save the “unhealthy” meals for the weekends, so I was really looking forward to Saturday all week. Once Saturday came, I found some chanterelles on offer in one of the local stores and was over the moon. Finally, I would get my beloved chanterelle pasta again. The best thing about this is that it’s so easy to make vegan. Normally, chanterelle’s should be stir fried in lots of butter, but nobody will know the difference if you use margarine instead (just make sure it’s salted – and don’t try to save on the calories here!).

chantarelle pasta 6

For 2 people:

250 g chanterelle mushrooms
30 g milk-free margarine
1 onion (preferably shallot)
1-2 cloves of garlic
250 ml soy cream
salt & pepper
parsley
Your favorite pasta

  1. Boil the pasta until it’s al-dente. If you want a vegan option, make sure the pasta doesn’t contain eggs.
  2. Melt the margarine on medium heat and chop the onion and garlic.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and cook until slightly golden.DSC_0476
  4. Add the chanterelle mushrooms and cook for a while, until all the fluid had evaporated
    chantarelle pasta
  5. Stir in the soy cream, add salt, pepper and parsley. Let it simmer.
    chantarellepasta-3chantarelle pasta 4
  6. Add your pasta and mix it all together in the pan.
    chantarelle pasta 5

It’s a simple as that – and so easy to make vegan, no one will even know. It would go perfectly together with a cold, white wine but we decided to open up a really good bottle of red that Jacob got for his graduation. We took the food and the wine down to our backyard and ate there, as summer had suddenly decided to make a comeback for a few days in Denmark. So if you’re a pasta fanatic and want to try a really creamy and delicious pasta, that also happens to be vegan, try this! I promise you won’t regret it.

Don’t forget to save the recipe for later on Pinterest: CHANTERELLE PASTA

 

 

 

Food, Places I've Been

Vegan in Split, Croatia – A Guide

August 18, 2016

As I mentioned in my vegan guide to Dubrovnik, Croatia isn’t the easiest place to be vegan in, but I’d have to say that Split is definitely one of the best choices for vegans looking for delicious food in Croatia. Vegans who visit Dubrovnik will have to rely on renting an apartment with a kitchen and cook some food at home, but Split is much more accomodating for vegan foodies. I’d still suggest renting an apartment with a kitchen, because it’s much cheaper than eating out all the time, but if you’re only staying for a few days you’ll survive without the kitchen. When I first visited Split in 2011 none of these places existed/had vegan options, so it’s safe to say that the town has quickly adapted to tourist demands, which is great. So what are the places you can happily enjoy a meal at if you’re vegan in Split?

vegan in split

Lovely Split! (Picture from Pixabay, CC license)

Vege Fast Food
Not so much a restaurant as a take-away fast food joint with veggie burgers, seitan steaks, tofu and the likes. Food is of varying quality but prices are okay. Can be hard to find – look for the sign that says VEGE.
Where: Put Porta 2, Split – just by the green market outside of the walls.  

Matoni
Set outside the old town, closer to the main beach in Split, is Matoni where you can get both meat and vegan options. Vegan options include stuffed red peppers, salad with zucchini and beetroot pasta and a lentil muffin. Great prices compared to the restaurants inside the walls.
Website
Where: Prilaz braće Kaliterna 6, Split

Makrovega
Only a few minutes walk outside of the walls you will find one of the most popular veg*n restaurants in Split: Makrovega. Here you will find vegan burritos, seitan and tempeh sandwiches, and a daily menu that changes but can include salads, soups burgers etc. Plus: vegan cakes! A must for any vegan visiting.
Website (in Croatian)
Where: Lestina 4, Split

makrovega split

Vegan deliciousness at Makrovega in Split.

Up Cafe
Same owners as Makrovega and also all veg*n, Up Cafe offers vegan desserts, tempeh and seitan sandwiches, a hemp burger, risotto, a homemade stew and much more. Has WiFi!
Website
Where: Domovinskog rata 29a, Split – a bit outside of the city centre.

Galerija Food
If you’re looking for a place inside of the town walls with a lovely setting and good food this is a great choice. It’s a mainly meat restaurant but has some vegan options, such as vegan bowls and vegan dessert.
Facebook page
Where: Vuskiviceva 3, Split

Bistro Toc
My favorite restaurant to visit in Split – not only because of the cat that always hangs around! The food is great to and vegan options include burritos, salads and so on… Most (if not all?) of the vegetarian options can be made vegan with a few tweaks. A few minutes walk from the old town. Lovely setting, very friendly staff.
Website
Where:  Šegvića 1, Split

vegan in split

Veggie food at Bistro Toc in Split

Toto’s Burger Bar 
A burger bar, but serves some vegan options as well, such as veggie noodles and zucchini noodles with tomato sauce.
Where: Trumbiceva Obala 2, Split

Wok Bar – That’s All Woks
Up for some Asian wok? Wok Bar mainly serves meat but has vegan options such as smoked tofu with whole-wheat noodles in curry and you can customize your own wok bowl by choosing the exact ingredients you want in it – perfect for those of us who are a bit picky! There are a few seats inside but I’d suggest getting the food to go.
Facebook page (with menu).
Where: Obala Hrvatskog Narodnog Preporoda 25, Split

Bio & Bio
If you’re cooking at home you will be able to find tofu, seitan and other vegan food at Bio & Bio which has many locations in Split and also sells lots of other stuff.
Where: Vukovarska ul. 207  (City Center), Morpurgova poljana 2, and Robna kuća Prima 3 (at R. Boškovića bb).

split

A tiny little moon <3

Copenhagen, Food

Copenhagen Street Food Festival

August 15, 2016

Who doesn’t love a good food truck when hunger strikes? This weekend I put my walking shoes on and walked down to Søerne for the first Copenhagen Street Food Festival, arranged by Kødbyens Mad og Marked, Rebel Food, Kitchen Collective,and YELP Copenhagen. The whole area from Dronning Louises Bro, up towards Åboulevard, and Sortedam Dossering was filled with small food trucks and the smell of food was in the air, despite the somewhat bad, occasionally rainy, weather.

Jacob was hungry, so he tried the veggie tacos from Yuca taco and they were sooo delicious – even though they were out of guacamole when we came. I loved to see so many people that came out to enjoy the good food and hang out. It was a very well organised event with lots of places to sit (maybe a bit too few waste baskets though), food from all over the world and options for everyone. I’d love to see it come back next year. I am always amazed by what good chefs can do with little means.

copenhagen street food

“If I drink alcohol I am alcoholic, But if I drink Fanta, does that make me fantastic?”

copenhagen street food

A lot of people came down to enjoy the food despite the occasional rain.

 

 

copenhagen street food

I went for the pearl barley risotto, veggie balls, salad and a dressing with some parmesan on top. Absolutely delicious!

As you can see above I went for delicious veggie balls from a place called Average Meatballs, paired with pearl barley risotto, some salad and a dressing, it was the perfect small lunch for me. It tasted exceptionally well and I could have eaten 2 more of these, but it was enough to leave some room for a bigger dinner later in the evening.

 

copenhagen street food

Copenhagen Street Food Festival was a great event for all of us foodies – with lots of vegetarian options!

If you missed the food festival but love street food, I suggest you visit Copenhagen Street Food on Papirøen which can easily be reached from Nyhavn in central Copenhagen.

Food, Places I've Been, Travel

The best restaurants in Hvar, Croatia

July 30, 2016
restaurants in hvar

This year was my fifth time in the lovely island of Hvar in Croatia. There are many reasons I love Hvar, and the food scene is one of them. The food is simply amazing and despite its small size, Hvar has many great restaurants to offer – no matter your budget and food preferences. Every time we go to Hvar we find new restaurants – either ones we’ve completely missed or new ones that have recently open. Of course, I want to try them all, but that’s not always possible. If you’re planning a trip to Hvar and want some restaurant recommendations, I’ve here compiled a list of the best restaurants in Hvar.

Because I am a vegetarian, I’m not able to eat at all the restaurants in Hvar so I’ve divided this list into the restaurants that I have tried myself and the restaurants that I have heard friends and acquaintances rave about.

My personal favorite restaurants in Hvar:

The Golden Shell
The Golden Shell is located on a small cobble street just behind the big square and it can be hard to miss so look out for the hostess outside. It’s probably one of the smallest restaurants that I’ve visited, with only around 12 tables, but the food is so amazing that we ate here twice during our last trip. They only have one vegetarian meal: a pasta with gorgonzola sauce and apples, and it tastes just like heaven, but they have more options if you eat meat and/or fish. Jacob had the ćevapčići, Balkan meat rolls, in lepinja, a traditional Balkan flatbread, served with onion, a delicious salad, ajvar and potatoes. He absolutely loved it. The restaurant is run by a family. The sommelier/server alone, Antonio (or Toni as they call him), is worth coming here for. He’s charming, nice, has a good sense of humour and knows everything about the food and the wine they serve. As the place is quite small, Toni has the time to chat to his customers (if they feel like it) and explain everything about the food on your plate. While we were there he told two women dining at the restaurant how he himself had caught the seafood they were about to eat, earlier that day. You can hear the knives cutting vegetables in the kitchen, where the chef is never too stressed or busy to deliver a perfect meal. The chef who, by the way, is World Master Chef Ivan Buzolic and sometimes his daughter Maja – both excellent chefs. The food is sourced locally as far as possible and the wine is all local wine. If you’re in Hvar for just one night, this is the place to go.
Where: Petra Hektorovića 8, Hvar.
Website (in Croatian)

DSC_0141

Jacob had ćevapčići at the Golden Shell – the only meat I still miss!

Fig Café Bar
This is a new place in Hvar, opened by an American who moved to Croatia and decided to open up something a bit different than what all the other restaurants in Hvar are offering. Forget the classic Mediterranean pasta, risotto, pizza, meat, fish and seafood and enjoy Mexican pulled pork, pear and gorgonzola flat bread, vegan root vegetables with hummus or a vegetarian Indian curry with raita – food you won’t find anywhere else on the island. The place is small and hard to find, but once you find it you’ll keep coming back. The restaurant with its outside seating is located in a quiet, small street away from the crowds. You can’t make any reservations and it’s often full so either get here early or be prepared to grab a drink and wait a little while to be seated. The food is not only different but tastes absolutely fantastic as well – I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Read more about our visit to Fig Café Bar here.
Where: If you’re at the main square you will see two restaurants called Mizzarola and Ex Rocco. In between them is a small alleyway which can easily be missed if you don’t know it’s there. Walk down that alleyway and you will see the Fig Café Bar logo at the end – then turn left and you’re there.
Website.

DSC_0331

Luna
Restaurant Luna is located on the same small street as The Golden Shell and after you climb the many stairs you can sit on the lovely, cozy rooftop. Luna mainly serves meat and fish but also has a lovely gnocchi with truffles for the vegetarians. We came here early and were the only people there but if you get here later in the evening it’s usually packed. The wine list is filled with Croatian wines and the servers are competent and can help you choose one that goes well with whatever you’re eating.
Where: Petra Hektorovića 1, Hvar.
Website.

DSC_0347

Truffle gnocchi at Luna

Other great restaurants in Hvar

Dalmatino
This restaurant is number one on Tripadvisor in Hvar, so many tourists come here, but it is not a tourist trap at all. The restaurant specializes in fish and seafood and I hear they have excellent service.
Where: Sveti Marak 1, Hvar
Website.

Giaxa
A really cozy restaurant with the most amazing setting on one of the cobble streets, Giaxa mainly serves fish and meat. We ate here a few years ago when they offered to make me a vegetarian pasta, but unfortunately they weren’t keen on adapting their menu this time around. Nevertheless, if you eat meat and fish and want to splurge for an evening, Giaxa is a great choice.
Where: Petra Hektorovica 3, Hvar
Website.

Lucullus
An excellent restaurant as well, with classic Dalmatian cuisine. We used to come here a lot when they had vegetarian options but  they didn’t have them this year so we skipped it. Still, it’s one of the best restaurants in town with excellent food and friendly waiters.
Where: Petra Hektorovića 8, Hvar (same address as Golden Shell above, but they’re right across the “street”.)

restaurants in hvar

Black Pepper with its checked tablecloths (Photo from Black Pepper’s Facebook page)

Black Pepper
A new restaurant that has quickly gained raving reviews among tourists and locals alike. They serve dalmatian classics with a twist and in a lovely setting. Didn’t eat here because of the lack of veg*n food on the menu but again – for meat and fish it’s perfect.
Where: Skaline od Gojave 11, Hvar
Facebook page.

Paradies Garden
Though Paradies Garden is not a new restaurant in Hvar, I hadn’t heard of it until now – maybe they just upped their marketing budget? Either way, it seems to be a place where people enjoy seafood, fish and meat as well as local wine and great service.
Where: Groda bb, Hvar

Do you have any favorite restaurants in Hvar that you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

Food, Places I've Been, Travel

Fig Café Bar – The New Kid in Hvar Town

July 27, 2016
restaurants in hvar

Before traveling anywhere I research the restaurants in the area. Researching restaurants started when I became a vegetarian and found it hard to find places to eat – especially while I travelled. But with time and my growing interest in food, it’s become a way for me to find new, great restaurants and to not get stuck with the mediocre tourist traps while on vacation. So I check Tripadvisor, Yelp, google and different blogs and make a list of restaurants that I want to visit. Fig Café Bar was one of the places I found researching new restaurants in Hvar and what really drew me in was the menu. It’s a very untraditional menu – not a single Croatian meal in there and good options for veg*ns – I had to try it!

We went there early and had some trouble finding the place. It is located in a small alleyway behind the main square and we had no idea how to get there so I had to read the instructions on Tripadvisor (thank you fellow travelers!). There’s a small (very small) alleyway between two pizzerias on the main square. You go through there, up some stairs and see the Fig Café Bar logo – turn left… and there you are. Although we were there early (around 19), there was only one table left and just 20 minutes later, 5 people were waiting for a table.

DSC_0323

Once you see this, you go left.

We ordered our food and some wine by the glass and just sat there and enjoyed the music softly pouring through the speakers. I ordered an Indian vegetable curry with raita and flatbread while Jacob ordered the Mexican pulled pork with flatbread. The food was there soon enough and it was absolutely delicious!

restaurants in hvar

My dish – the Indian vegetable curry…

DSC_0332

…with raita on the side. Make the dish vegan by ordering without raita.

Jacob decided to try the Mexican pulled pork and he was over the moon. He loves spicy food and although he’s not a big meat eater he looooved this. Ask your server about how spicy it is as this may vary from day to day.

DSC_0336

The Mexican pulled pork with sour cream, grilled flatbread and a salad.

DSC_0341

Lovely setting too – I just had to take a pic and Jacob’s all embarassed 😉

We were absolutely delighted with both the food and the service and came back a second time. I tried the vegan root vegetables with hummus and it was delicious as well, so I can recommend that too – though the Indian curry was more up my alley.

INFO:
Fig Café Bar
Address: Stjepana Papafave 35, Hvar
Reservations not possible, arrive early or be prepared to wait.
Serves breakfast from 10am.

Food, Travel

Vegan in Dubrovnik – A Guide

July 25, 2016

Being vegan or vegetarian in Croatia isn’t very common. In fact, when some of my (Balkan-based) family learned that I was vegetarian they didn’t believe me, and definitely didn’t believe that I would even survive. 10 years later, most of them have somehow grasped it, but depend on me eating cheese, eggs and such instead. So if you’re a vegan, you’re a rare kind. Traveling in Croatia as a vegan is not the easiest, but luckily it’s getting easier and easier – especially in the more popular tourist destinations. Dubrovnik is one of the most popular destinations in Croatia and once you visit you will see why. It’s a wonderful, beautiful town. Being vegan in Dubrovnik might not be the easiest thing, but I was there just a few weeks ago and did some research on the vegan food scene. Here’s my guide to visiting Dubrovnik as a vegan:

  • Stay in an apartment or a good hotel

When we were in Dubrovnik we stayed in a wonderful hotel that had some options for vegans during breakfast, but not much else. They had rice and soya milk, sourdough bread (which is made with no animal ingredients), lots of veggies and fruit, marmalade and so on. If you’re planning to stay in a hotel, do check in advance what they offer. However, a cheaper alternative to staying in hotels is booking an apartment with a kitchen. I find this option makes me feel more like a local than a tourist and you can often get great tips from the hosts. Try AirBnb, Booking.com or hotels.com (yes they have apartments too!). When you rent your own apartment with a kitchen you can make your own breakfast and on-the-go lunch as well as the occasional dinner. Not only is this a cheaper alternative than eating out all the time (believe me, I’ve learned the hard way!) but you can ensure that your food is vegan. Plus all the veggies are so much more delicious when they are grown in Croatia.

  • Nischta

Nischta is one of my favorite restaurants! Not only in Dubrovnik but one of my all-time favorites. I’ve written about it here before. The menu is vegetarian and vegan and most of the vegetarian tems can be ordered vegan, which is great. The food is absolutely delicious and the staff is really friendly. It is located on one of the small streets, parallel to the main street in the Old Town, Stradun. Make sure you book a table ahead if you’re eating dinner there though, as it is often fully-booked during evenings.  I could eat here every single day, but beware it’s closed on Sundays.
Where: Old Town, Prijeko bb
More information an d menu on website.

vegan in dubrovnik

Bowl with rice, veggies and tofu

  • Marco Polo Restaurant

Marco Polo is a regular restaurant but also serves vegan food. There’s a vegan salad with apples, walnuts, and cranberries, a tofu steak with wok vegetables, and wok rice noodles with veggies and soya sauce. Although I unfortunately didn’t have time to visit the restaurant, I hear it’s very good. We did walk past it and it looks very nice so I definitely recommend coming here if you’re visiting. Plus, it’s perfect if you’re with a meatie who craves something other than veg food.
Where:  Old town – Lučarica ul. 6
More information and menu here

  • Bio&Bio

Bio&bio is a health store with shops throughout Croatia and makes it that much easier to be vegan in Dubrovnik! The Dubrovnik shop is located a bit outside of the Old Town but you can easily walk there or take the bus from Pile gate. Here you’ll find lots of vegan food – vegan snack bars, plant-based milk, patés, tofu, seitan “meat” and other vegan items. Shop ’til you drop and go cook yourself a lovely meal before you head out for the evening.

Where: Vukovarska 36, Dubrovnik (walk there or take the bus from Pile gate to the Tommy centre). You can buy tickets on the bus.

  • Be nice and ask!

Most restaurants who don’t have anything for you on the menu will make something just for you. They are used to tourists and you’re probably not the first vegan to walk into the restaurant, so don’t be afraid to ask. I normally ask the host/hostess before entering if they have anything I can eat and if they don’t, they often say which dishes the chefs can make for you. If they don’t have anything, well, at least you’ve let them know there’s a demand for it.

  • Farmer’s market

Buy fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruiton the daily open farmer’s market in the Old Town. Get there early and buy everything from juicy, ripe tomatoes to herbs and olive oil at better prices than in the supermarkets. There’s also a farmer’s market in Gruz (by the harbour in Dubrovnik) but it’s also a fish market so be prepared to see a lot of dead fish 😉 .

Dubrovnik farmer's market

Gruz farmer’s market

I think that covers it for now, but as soon as I hear more about new vegan-friendly places I’ll make sure to add them here – do let me know in the comments if you’ve found a good restaurant or shop with a proper vegan selection. So as you can see, although Dubrovnik isn’t covered with vegan restaurants on every corner, being vegan in Dubrovnik can definitely be done with some research and planning – and preferably a small kitchen.

Beauty

Avoid Getting a Sunburn This Summer

July 22, 2016
avoid getting a sunburn

While we’re well into summer at this point, and you hopefully have managed to avoid a sunburn I still wanted to write my best tips on how to avoid getting a sunburn – be it this summer or next. Truthfully, I am talking from experience. The last few years I have been really careful not to get sunburnt, as my skin is extremely sensitive and I easily get UV damages. UV damage on the skin is a darker area on the skin that gets darker and darker the more sun you get, and it is usually caused by sunburn. This year, while vacationing in Croatia, I wasn’t as careful though and wound up with some pretty hurtful, painfully red areas on my body. Ouch! Without further ado here’s how to avoid getting a sunburn:

  1. Start at a higher SPF and work your way down.
    Look, I get it. You want a tan. My normal skintone is somewhere between Morticia Addams and Voldemort, so naturally I like a little bit of color during the summer. The color I’m after, however, isn’t Jessica Rabbit’s hair so I like to start off with SPF 30 when I travel south. In Denmark, I usually don’t go that high, and if you live in a warmer climate your skin gets used to the UV rays a bit more, but I’d still recommend to start off with something  around SPF15-20. Don’t overdo it though – SPF 15 blocks around 93% of the damaging rays while SPF50 blocks around 98. So the difference isn’t huge – however, sun screens with a higher SPF contain more ingredients, which can be bad if you’re sensitive.
    After a few days of sun and SPF30, I usually switch to SPF15-30.
  2. Higher SPF for your face…AND chest!
    Many people have a specific sun screen for the face, with a bit higher SPF. The skin on your face is more sensitive and the sun can easily cause damage here – everything from lines and wrinkles to dark spots (UV damage). But the skin on your neck and upper chest is actually just as sensitive! So use your face cream for the face, neck and chest.
  3. Apply sunscreen generously!
    Since there’s no difference in sun protection between cheaper and more expensive sun screens, always go for the cheaper one so that you can apply it generously all over your face and body. If you don’t, you risk not getting full protection. Remember that you must apply your sunscreen every 2 hours!
  4. That parasol though!
    I’m not going to tell you to stay out of the sun between 11-16 (11am-4pm) because well, what else are you supposed to do on your vacation? Of course you want to be in the sun! If it’s possible, I always rent a parasol at the beach and put it up sporadically throughout the day to get a little bit of shade. This is partly because I don’t want a sunburn and partly because I feel like a fried egg in a pan and can barely breathe with the sun on me all day. Plus: your drink stays cool! 😉
  5. Get in the nude!
    One of the best things I’ve learned over the years is to apply your sunscreen before you head out to the beach and before you put on any clothes. Otherwise, I would always end up with a sunburn around the edges of my bikini, areas I often overlook when I put on sunscreen at the beach, and it hurts like hell! So get in the nude and start slathering that sunscreen on!

liveandletsgocom

Photos from Elle Sweden, July 2016 issue.

Food, Places I've Been

One of the Best Restaurants in Dubrovnik: Nautika

July 4, 2016
restaurants in dubrovnik

One of the days in Dubrovnik I needed something to cheer me up. Not because anything was wrong; I was just in a mellow mood. I had done some research on the best restaurants in Dubrovnik but essentially decided to just try one of the cozy restaurants down by the Pile Gate, overlooking Fort Lovrjenac (also known as King’s Landing in HBO series Game of Thrones), called Nautika. It has been recognized by the infamous Condé Nast Traveller magazine as the sixth most romantic restaurant in the world. I couldn’t agree more. The view was spectacular and luckily we were able to get a table for two with no reservations. Although it wasn’t any of the tables that offered a prime first row view, we still enjoyed both the view and our fantastic truffle pastas. In short, Nautika is one of the best restaurants in Dubrovnik because of the impeccable service and the food…. oh, the food! And the wine… Oh, the wine! 

best restaurants in dubrovnik

This view though…

best restaurants in dubrovnik

My man <3

We skipped starters and wanted to jump straight to our truffle pasta, but were treated with an amuse-bouche and some Croatian olive-oil.

best restaurants in dubrovnik

Great local wine and olive-oil.

Later the truffle pasta was served and it just melted in our mouths. Oh, how I love truffle pasta! I could eat it every single day, and this one was one of the finer ones I’ve had.

best restaurants in dubrovnik

Truffle pasta with fresh Istrian truffles

Although the meal was a hot starter, like most pastas in restaurants are, we were quite full and didn’t go for dessert. However, upon asking for the bill we were given some home-made, orange scented chocolate which tasted sublime as well.

Needless to say after showing you these pictures Nautika is definitely one of the best restaurants in Dubrovnik; not just for the fantastic views but the impeccable service, the tasty food prepared with perfect attention to details, and the Croatian wine we enjoyed. It’s not by any means one of the cheapest restaurants in the city, but if you’re celebrating or just want to splurge I’d say Nautika is a fantastic choice for that.

DSC_0804

My view was perfect, as you can see 😉

best restaurants in dubrovnik

All in all a lovely meal I’ll still be dreaming of many years from now.

Travel

The Ultimate Guide to Zadar

June 23, 2016

Zadar is the city in Croatia that I’ve been to the most times. When I was a child, we’d come here every summer to visit our relatives and we always had a blast, whether it was playing at the beach or eating ice cream cones in the old town. Of course, I’ve been there as an adult as well to visit family and now I like it even more than I used to. Zadar is larger than popular Dubrovnik and has a wonderful city center made up of the Old Town, as it is in many Croatian cities. Zadar is located north from Split, around a two hour drive on the freeway, and is over 3,000 years old. Pretty impressive, right? The city boasts with architecture from Roman times, such as the Roman Forum and Iaderae monuments from the Middle Ages, countless churches and monasteries etc. If you don’t know which Croatian city to visit this summer, I’ve created a short, yet extensive guide to Zadar.

109

Me in Zadar, enjoying the sunset a couple of years ago.

Stay at…

The most popular way of living in Croatia is renting apartments or rooms from locals. Check out booking.com or hotels.com (adlink) to find some pretty nice places. Staying this way is quite cheap and you can stay in the neighborhoods where the locals live, getting to know the Croatian way of live. However, there are also many nice hotels – Falkensteiner has some really nice hotels in Zadar, including the Adriana Hotel by Borik located just by the beach and a 20 minute walk to the city centre, while the Iadera hotel and spa is located a bit outside of the city but has a real luxury feeling to it (full disclosure, one of my family members works there but I haven’t been paid to write this 😉 ). If you’re a backpacker and just want some place cheap and nice, there are plenty of hostels as well – again check Booking and Hotels.

Enjoy sunny days…

One of the most popular beaches in Zadar is Borik, it’s quite large and there’s something for everyone here. The adventurous types can rent a scooter and the kids can play by the children’s area. The beach is mostly pebbles, as in most of Croatia. Another popular beach is Kolovare, frequented by both locals and tourists, and the recipient of the international Blue Flag award – a symbol for clean water and quality. If you have a car, you can drive 12 km north of Zadar to Petrcane, a very popular beach in a small fishing village. This beach has markets, restaurant and everything else you could possibly need. Close by is also the popular beach in Nin, where you can smother yourself in the famous medicinal mud, which is said to treat everything from rheumatic diseases to skin diseases (although I’d recommend it just for the fun of it – your skin becomes really soft!).

Nin medicinal mud

Here’s Jacob, covered in the medicinal mud of Nin. You apply it straight from the ground, wear it for half an hour and wash it off in the sea.

guide to zadar

The sunset in Zadar – isn’t it one of the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen?

Visit…

You can’t write a guide to Zadar without mentioning The Greeting to the sun and the Sea Organ, which is also the best location to watch the famous Zadar sunset. The Greeting to the sun is a unique light installation which uses sunlight to create amazing light shows in the evening. The Sea Organ is just as unique and plays soft and relaxing music with the help of the waves coming in from the ocean. Sit here with your loved ones and enjoy the sunset, the music, and the light show. You’ll find several national parks which can easily be reached by bus or car, Plitvice Lakes is a 2 hour drive away but you can also visit the picturesque waterfalls of Krka near Sibenik or visit the Paklenica canyons, both just a 50 minute ride away. If you have access to a boat, I highly recommend sailing out to the Kornati archipelago. The water is crystal clear and bright blue and the lack of tourists makes it the perfect place to really get away from the everyday vacation life.

Don’t miss: The Full Moon Night, usually in August, when the city turns the lights off down the main street Riva and the locals make traditional dishes you can taste.

guide to zadar

Old Roman forum ruins

guide to zadar

The Greeting to the sun

Feeling adventurous?

Go river rafting in the Zrmanja river, located one hour away by car or bus. You can go rafting April-October. If you visit during the summer months, the water levels are usually lower and calmer while a spring or autumn visit will give you more of an adrenaline rush. There are a few different river rafting centres, check out Raftrek, HuckFinn, and Riva Rafting Centar. I did river rafting while in Montenegro/Bosnia last year and it was such a wonderful experience, so I really recommend this if you want to see the best of Croatian nature.

Shop…

The main street in the old town, Riva, has many good shops whether you’re looking for fashion or locally produced souvenirs. If it’s raining out while you’re visiting Zadar, you can indulge in an afternoon of shopping at the Supernova shopping center, which has an abundance of international and local stores for men, women and children alike.

guide to zadar

You can’t miss St Donatus Chruch if you’re shopping in Zadar.

Eat at…

There are many great restaurants in the Old town and there’s really something for everyone. But my favorite restaurant is located outside of theold city and is called Mamma Mia. They make the best lasagna you will ever taste (whether you choose the vegetarian or the meat version). The staff is friendly and food is amazing! Other places worth mentioning are Restaurant Bruschetta and Pasta & Svasta. If you’re vegan, the restaurant Art of Raw serves vegan raw food daily during high season (closed if the weather’s bad) in the lovely The Garden, which has an amazing view of Zadar.

Get your party on at…

Zadar is not just for families. If you want to sip cocktails or party all night long, Zadar’s the city for you as well. The Garden Lounge that I mentioned above has such wonderful scenery and atmosphere, and so has Lounge & Bar Ledana, so it’s a must to grab a drink here. Otherwise there’s Maraschino – café by day, night club by night, or Yachting Bar close to the Borik beach. Also, be sure to check out Podroom which is open during weekends and is the place to party all night long

guide to zadar

The sun is setting behind the mountains…

I hope you enjoyed my guide to Zadar, whether you’ve visited it before or not. It’s truly a lovely and underestimated city – and cheaper than both Dubrovnik and Split.

Travel

How To Stay in Luxury Hotels On A Budget

June 21, 2016
Luxury hotels on a budget

Who doesn’t want to stay in luxury hotels while vacationing without blowing your budget? My first five star hotel experience was the Hilton Park Lane in London when I was there for my birthday last year. We were upgraded to a room on the 26:th floor, welcomed with delicious pastry in our room, and enjoyed having a 10-minute-walk to Oxford Street as well as one of my favorite bars in London, Galvin at Windows, a few floors up.  It was such a fantastic way to spend my birthday. For me, the hotel is definitely part of the experience of traveling. Sure, you can stay in a hostel or a hotel outside of the city centre if that’s what your budget or preferance is, but if you have a bit more money to spare the price difference between a 3, 4 and 5 star hotel isn’t always as big as you would expect – at least not if you know how to get the best deals. As for me, I think enhancing my travel experience with a good hotel is worth the extra money. Getting away and living in luxury for a few days will linger long after the hotel bills are payed. To this day I remember my stay in London as one of my best weekend getaways. Of course, I don’t necessarily have the money required for staying in 5 star hotels, but I do have some very good tips for staying in luxury hotels on a budget:

Look for the best deals

There are some great sites to use if you want the best deals on luxury hotels, such as secretescapes.com (adlink) or Trivago.com. While Trivago helps you find the hotel booking site with the best deal on a specific hotel, Secret Escapes has offers from luxury hotels all over the world that offer heavily discounted prices on specific dates. It’s always worth checking out if you’re going somewhere – you could end up staying in a luxury hotel for the same price as you would pay for two people in a private dorm in a hostel.

Join A Hotel Members/Loyalty Club

If you’re often staying in hotels, it might be a good idea to join their members clubs for good offers and discounts. I always book through hotels.com (adlink) and joined their Rewards program a while ago. The Rewards program lets you collect the number of nights in a hotel and once you have collected 10 nights (1 night = 1 night in the reward program) you get a one night stay for free! If you collect 20 nights, you get 2 stays and so on. The Rewards program is great and has actually enabled me to get a stay in a 5 star hotel for our upcoming trip to Dubrovnik in Croatia for a very reasonable price.

Take a chance

No hotel wants empty rooms, so if you want to take a chance you can always check for rooms right before you leave. Many times it’s cheaper to book a few days or a week before you arrive, because the hotel wants to fill the rooms. Of course, you do risk not getting a to stay at any luxury hotel at all if everything’s already booked, but oftentimes the hotel rooms are just empty and will be cheaper – if you ask for it. Always check hotels.com or trivago (or other hotel deal sites) for the best prices and if you don’t think the price is low enough you can try reaching out to the hotel and try to negotiate. Maybe they’ll be willing to give you a better fee if you skip the breakfast or only require cleaning every other day, or maybe they will be willing to upgrade you to a suite for the price of a regular room. Pick up the phone, introduce yourself politely, and start negotiating!
luxury hotels on a budget

 

Do you have any other tips when it comes to staying in luxury hotels on a limited budget? Let me know in the comments.

(This post contains adlinks. When you click on them and buy something from them, I get a small percentage of the sale. These sums can help me with managing the costs associated with running liveandletsgo.com and I very much appreciate you using my links.)

Pictures via Pixabay under CC0 license.